Water strider, from Kerala I can’t walk on water, but the water strider insect shown to the left, can and does – hence its name water strider or pond skater. The reason why the water striders can walk on water is simple, they are very small (the insect show above has a body maybe a cm long) and the surface tension of water is quite large.

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DNA Double HelixThe Harvard Prof George Church seems to have hit on a new marketing ploy for his upcoming book Regenesis. You may have read it in The Guardian, so it looks like it is working. He has produced it in a new format: DNA. Now, of course a book is just information, which is why you can download it onto a Kindle, iPad, etc. And it has been known since the 1940s that DNA encodes information – that is just what we and other living organisms use it for.

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This is a quote by Richard Feynmann. I really like it. It is easy to just say I understand something, but if you can make something from scratch, and it works, then at some level you really must understand it. I was reminded of it when I started on some course notes for a course I am teaching this autumn. It is on biological physics, so I will be talking about applying physics to life. Living things are very complex, and so we don’t truly understand a lot of how they (and we work). We certainly can’t create a human body from scratch in the lab. There is no Dr Frankenstein.

Over the last 15 years we have, however, learnt how to do a bit of programming of bacteria, to make them flash in synchrony, see this YouTube

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Fundus photograph of normal left eyeThis is a post on the eye condition ‘wet’ macular degeneration (WMD), there will be about as much of the other sort of WMD as there were in Iraq. I was at a conference on mathematical biology a couple of weeks ago, and heard some great talks. One of the most inspiring was on what is called ‘wet’ macular degeneration. Before the talk started I did not even know what the macula was.

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04
Aug
2012

LogsLike a lot of people I am watching a fair bit of the olympics. What the athletes can do is amazing, they are astonishingly fit and skilled. I am also working on how crystals start off life. You may think that there is no connection between the Olympics and crystallisation. But there is, the connection is extremes.

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02
Aug
2012

I think slinky springs are great. Take a look at this:

The slow motion videos of the slinky are just cool. I also love the fact that towards the end, they interview the guy with the computer model of the slinky spring, and it is just transparent that he loves working out what is happening, just for its own sake. Thanks to @RHULPhysics for the tweet with the link.

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